Rebuilding on Divine Calling

rebuilding on divine calling

So God created human beings in His own image.  In the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”  Genesis 1:27-28 

This week the blog theme shifts from theology to rebuilding. This is a natural progression – a rebuilding of mission/ministry on a foundation of theological truth. “Rebuilding” seems to imply that something has been lost, destroyed, or taken away. After two years of pandemic, “rebuilding” is a relevant theme.

I am struck by two truths from Genesis 1. First, man and woman are made in the image of God.  Second, man and woman are given a divine calling by God.  A few weeks ago, our EFCC Leadership Catalyst Terry Kaufman talked about how God’s beautiful plan for humanity includes “work”! Part of what it means to be made in His image is that we are wired (and commanded!) to create, be fruitful, and tend (2:15) creation. We are gifted and called by God to “reign” over what He has created in a loving, caring way that causes it to flourish.

I am reminded that every human being – male and female has this gifting and calling from God. Further, as followers of Jesus, each of us has a calling to minister shalom and His grace in this world. Many Old Testament scholars see temple imagery in the Garden of Eden. Man and woman are expelled from the Garden/temple in Genesis 3, but God continues to find ways to personally minister grace in a sinful world (through the tabernacle, the temple and Jesus). Peter reminds us in I Peter 1 that we are a “living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple. What’s more, you are His holy priests.  Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.”  (I Peter 2:5). Peter further declares that we are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own people. As a result, we can show others the goodness of God (I Peter 2:9).

The calling on man and woman in Genesis 1-2, was a calling to all humans.  It was a calling to live out the image of God in us and work – to produce beauty, fruitfulness, and shalom.

That universal call still stands – even in a creation that groans under the weight of sin (Romans 8). Moving forward, I want to suggest that the Church needs to rebuild on another divine calling. This calling is for every follower of Jesus (not just pastors and missionaries). This divine mandate is for each of us to be a royal priest who ministers the gracious, redemptive presence of God in this foreign land. Professional clergy and spectacular programs alone will not accomplish what God has called His Church to. This side of COVID we need to embrace the divine calling that puts feet to the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and makes it relevant to salvation, sanctification, and mission.

Bill Taylor
EFCC Executive Director


Theology for Today

theology for today

Recently Bill Taylor posted on this Blog site some thoughts and questions regarding Genesis and its implications for us. He graciously opened the door for further discussion, and I would like to follow that invitation by suggesting a couple of thoughts for consideration.

First, it is clear from the early chapters of Genesis that we were created to work. I know that work is often perceived as a four-letter word — in the “bad” sense. But work was given to mankind pre-fall, in a perfect environment, and as a part our forming in the image of God. This flies in the face of the often-caricatured picture of work being a result of the fall of humanity from grace, the fall into brokenness, something to endure, something bothersome and endured only to provide for what is really important — which of course is leisure. But that is not God’s model. Nor is that God’s example. Work is Godly, in many ways. At least, it is designed and intended to be.

In fact, there is a fascinating verse in Isaiah 65 that indicates that we will even work in the New Heaven/New Earth. There, work will not be stained by the fall, but we will be able to build houses that last and will not be taken from us. While I am not sure how literal to take that, I do believe it draws our attention to the fact that the world for which God created us, the world of Genesis 1 and 2 where sin had not yet destroyed so much, included work. If heaven is the re-creation, the fulfillment of God’s Eden, then work will be a part of our eternity in some form. I actually wonder if craftsmen, artists, creatives will all find fulfilling God’s honoring work in heaven, while us pastors will have to set our hands and minds to things less familiar to us now, as the work we are presently committed to will not be needed there. That is an intriguing thought for me.

So, can we begin to view our workplace and work opportunities with a fresh view? As Christians we should not communicate a dread for Mondays, and a celebration for Fridays, in the same way as those who are ignorant of God’s design and call on us. What a privilege to partner with God in the provision of our people and in reflecting His image through work.

But that also leads to a second observation from those first chapters of Genesis.

The work assigned to humanity in the Garden of Eden included care for God’s creation. Yes, that creation was there to provide for us, but we are also called to consider and care for the larger creation of God. This too is part of living in the image of God.

So, I leave you to ponder a couple of questions. What is your attitude about work? Is it appropriate? What can you do to change it? How can we leverage our work as a call of God, whether that work be in a kitchen, garage, retail sales, or church? And what are we personally doing to further the cause of care of God’s creation? This too is part of our work, our calling.

For me, these are pretty clear, and not very controversial, implications of the first chapters of Genesis where God articulates the beginnings of His plan for us. So how is that theology expressing itself in your today?

Terry Kaufman
EFCC Leadership Catalyst

Answers in Genesis

answers in genesis

God’s gospel originates in and expresses the wondrous perfections of the eternal, triune God.

1. We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.

In an earlier post I highlighted some “Questions in Genesis.”  In this post I want to think briefly about the rich “Answers in Genesis” that these two chapters present to gospel people. Rather than debating the mechanics of creation, I wish to affirm that these chapters provide us with deep, rich insights into the character and plans of our God. Many of these ideas are summarized in Article One of our EFCC Statement of Faith (which I have quoted above).

Genesis 1-2 reminds us that our God is Creator – and creative! Time and again in these chapters we see that the creation is good – very good, indeed!  It is good because our God is good – He is holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing! If you have read any of the ancient stories about the Greek, Canaanite, or Roman gods, you cannot but be amazed at the goodness of our God (as introduced to us in Genesis 1-2). He isn’t malevolent, capricious, or immoral, or any of the things we see from the ancient pagan gods. He has good plans for His creation. He is goodness, through and through! His rule is benevolent. He invites Adam and Eve to join Him in a “tending” of the creation meant for its flourishing, not for His own personal abuse. He is sovereign over it – He is king, but He is a loving, wise king who revels in the beauty of what He has made and invites humanity to join Him in its flourishing.

We see that our God is a “loving unity of equally divine persons.”  He declares, “Let us make man in our image!”  Loving unity is such a central feature of His nature that He declares that it is “not good” for Adam to be alone – and He creates a perfect counterpart so that Adam and Eve can experience the same loving unity. The beauty of God’s plan for male and female reflects the loving heart of an infinitely perfect, relational God. Genesis shows us God’s plan of shalom – loving and flourishing community for His creation and for humanity, the pinnacle of His creation. Genesis 3 of course shows how sin and rebellion destroy so much of this beauty, and yet, we see throughout the Word that God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.”  The first two chapters of Genesis remind us that our God is essentially a God of lovingkindness whose plan for creation and for male and female is beautiful and fulfilling.  All human substitutes for His plan may seem good and satisfying in the short run – but in the end fall short of the beautiful plan God had for creation, creature, and community.

Even the Fall of Genesis 3 cannot destroy the dignity of humans (the image of God in us), nor the beauty of creation. We do well to anchor our vision of God, creation, sex, marriage, calling, vocation, and community in this beautiful passage that introduces our God and His plan for His creation!

Bill Taylor
EFCC Executive Director

Questions in Genesis

questions in genesis

God created ha’adam in his image;

In the image of God He created him. 

Male and female he created them.  (Genesis 1:26-28)


I was chatting with a former EFCC pastor recently and he was bemoaning the fact that the majority of young people raised in the church have nearly identical beliefs about sex, gender, sin and other moral issues as their unchurched friends (for a statistical study on this see Kinnamon & Matlock, Faith for Exiles).  My immediate response to him was, “we need to help our people understand God’s beautiful plan for human flourishing (Genesis 1-2) and then see the world’s counterfeits to God’s plan in the context of Genesis 3 and the fallSadly, we have only taught our people what we are against – not what God is for.”

I am entitling this post “Questions in Genesis” because I think we would be well served by asking better questions regarding Genesis 1-2, rather than the “Answers in Genesis” approach.  That approach assumes that the essential theological issues worth fighting over have to do with answers regarding science and the mechanics of creation.  I believe that using Genesis 1-2 primarily as an apologetic against modern science has led to two problems.  First, we often overlook Genesis 1-2 in our gospel presentations.  We start with “you are a sinner” (Genesis 3).  The we skip the OT and go straight to the cross.  The upshot of this “sin management gospel” is accept Jesus, be forgiven and then be good.  This misses out on the richness of God’s redemptive narrative throughout the rest of the Bible.  The second problem with reading Genesis 1-2 this way is we miss out on what the author is really focusing on.  Genesis 1-2 is essential reading for understanding the good/beautiful character of the Hebrew God (versus the pagan gods of the land).  It is also one of our most powerful passages for understanding God’s beautiful plan for His creation (and for humans in particular).

I believe that historically we have brought tons of cultural assumptions into the text of the Bible.  This can lead us to miss the point of what the Spirit wants us to know and live out when we do it to passages like Genesis 1-2.  In this blog I simply want to surface several questions that help to expose some of the cultural assumptions we impose on this text.

  1. How would OT Jews have read this text?  Would they have looked for answers regarding the science and mechanics of creation?  Or would they have seen the Spirit presenting an apologetic regarding how good/moral/beautiful Yahweh is compared to the gods of the land?  Would they have marveled at how a good God initiated a beautiful plan for human flourishing?
  2. Do the English translations feed into some of our cultural assumptions about men and women?  For instance, the Hebrew word for “Adam” (quoted above) is not used as a name for the first man until chapter 4!  Adam and Eve are both “Ha’Adam” = human.  “Ezer”, translated “helper” or “helpmate” makes it sounds like Eve is a second-rate servant, created only to wait on Adam.  Yet “ezer” is a strong military term that denotes protecting someone from danger.  Yahweh is the “Ebenezer”, the “Rock of help”.
  3. What does it mean for both men and women to be made in the image of God? What would Jewish followers of Yahweh have understood about humans bearing the imprint of the King?  How does that speak to the dignity of humans?
  4. What does it mean for those made in the image of God to “be fruitful and multiply”? Could this have great utility in encouraging followers of Jesus to flourishing and bearing shalom in creation?
  5. Does God really set up an eternal hierarchy in Genesis 1-2? Or do we read this in because of our cultural biases?  Are there clear structures and commands for hierarchy in these chapters or do we have to work hard to infer them into the text?

In the coming months, I want to ponder each of these questions a bit more fully.  Not only do I think that the questions help us better understand what the Spirit wants us to understand but they also provide powerful context and direction for dealing with many of the critical issues of our day!

Bill Taylor
EFCC Executive Director